Suominen has two business areas: Convenience and Care. Although the scope of their operations might be different today, they nevertheless share many megatrends, raw materials, technologies and employee capabilities. Moreover, the product features may often be similar – after all, nearly all our products eventually touch human skin.
Our vision, to be a Market Driven Product Leader, reflects where Suominen is headed and what we want to be at the end of this strategy period.
Our strategy defines how Suominen will achieve its vision and the targets set for this strategy period. In the execution of the strategy, we will focus on developing four key areas.
Suominen’s purpose is to make nonwovens continuously better for people. It is the reason for our existence and the foundation of everything we do at Suominen. It tells us what we actually work for. Therefore, it is also a fundamental part of our strategies – the previous, current and the next one as well.
The largest ever investment in organic growth in Suominen’s history, the new production line built at the Bethune plant in SC, USA, combines wetlaid and composite technology in a novel way, since it is tailor-made based on our unique technical expertise. Our technological lead coupled with our evolving market insight enables us to create unique nonwovens solutions based on true market needs.
The new production line has been installed and we target to start commercial deliveries during the first quarter of 2017.
Suominen is the global market leader in nonwovens for wipes, with a market share of approximately 20%, and we want to be the preferred partner in the supply of superior nonwoven innovations. We help to improve the lives of consumers all over the world by making nonwovens that clean and care for people’s loved ones, homes and workplaces.
The Convenience business area offers nonwovens for an extensive range of wiping applications. In 2016, the business area accounted for 92% of Suominen’s total net sales. The main end use applications for our nonwovens for wipes are:
The customers of Convenience include global consumer brands, manufacturers of private label products, retail chains and regional nonwoven converters. Our customer relationships are typically very long, on average more than ten years.
The main market areas for Convenience are North America and Europe, and we also have a foothold in the South American market.
The net sales of the Convenience business area totaled EUR 385.5 million in 2016 (EUR 411.5 million in 2015). In 2016, the growth project continued in our plant in Bethune, SC, USA, with a major investment in a new production line. The installations at the Bethune plant were completed in December 2016. The new production line will increase our capacity in wetlaid technology and will, at first, meet the growing demand for nonwovens for household and workplace wiping, flushable wipes and personal care products.
Suominen’s new product development was constant throughout the year, even though no public product launches were announced. However, as a result of determined development projects carried out in close cooperation with customers, Suominen introduced several new nonwoven materials directly to its key customers. One of the most important product launches was a novel nonwoven substrate for household wiping, developed exclusively for a global consumer goods company. Another example of a non-public product launch is the next generation dispersible nonwoven for flushable wipes, which we introduced to select customers. This product is our best dispersible nonwoven yet and, as a product that disperses even more quickly when flushed down the toilet, it keeps Suominen ahead of the competition.
In May, Suominen launched the Suominen@work nonwovens product line for workplace wiping applications. End-use applications for these nonwovens could include, for instance, wipes used in fast food restaurants, healthcare facilities and factory workshops. The launch was one of the key steps in increasing the share of nonwovens with higher added value in Suominen’s product portfolio, which is the company’s
In late 2016, Suominen was awarded the 2016 Rockline Partnership Recognition for being a Best in Class Supplier and Partner. Rockline Industries is one of the largest global producers of consumer products specializing in wet wipes and a key customer for Suominen. The recognition demonstrates successful efforts in creating Mutual Value Partnerships with customers, which is one of Suominen’s strategic focus areas.
Despite the various crises in South America, and the unstable business environment in Brazil during 2016, Suominen’s business on the continent continues to be healthy and growing.
The new wetlaid production line in Bethune, SC, USA, is expected to start production in the first quarter of 2017 and the first orders from customers should be fulfilled during that same quarter.
The outlook for the Convenience business area continues to be auspicious, as demand for nonwovens used in wiping products is projected to increase in all market areas.
The forecasted growth varies across applications. For instance, the growth rate in nonwovens for baby wipes is around 2% in our main market areas, reflecting the relative maturity of these markets. On the other hand, the forecasted growth rates in nonwovens for flushable wipes, for example, are as high as 9% in the same geographical areas.
Growth rates may vary widely also across market areas. This is visibly illustrated, for example, in nonwovens for household wipes, as the growth rate for the application is projected to be 2% in Europe, but 7% in North America. The variation in estimated growth rates indicates, among other things, that the market for disposable household wipes is still emerging in Europe, and the continent is affected by the prolonged recession.
All in all, the conditions for growth are favorable, as the growth of the middle class, appreciation of a healthy lifestyle, well-being and a high level of personal hygiene, as well as efforts to achieve everyday comfort and convenience, are global megatrends that are gaining momentum.
|Application||North America||Europe||South America|
|Personal care wiping||6%||6%||*|
* Commercially small amounts supplied
In nonwovens for hygiene and medical products, Suominen is still a small but growing supplier with its Care business area. Suominen makes people’s lives better by offering high quality nonwoven components for select medical and hygiene applications for use in acute, institutional and home care settings.
In 2016, the Care business area accounted for 8% of Suominen’s net sales. The main market areas for Care are North America, South America and Europe.
The main end-use applications for Suominen’s nonwovens for hygiene products are:
The main end-use applications for medical products include:
For example, feminine care products can consist of several layers of different materials, with nonwovens being just one of them.
Customers of the Care business area include global consumer brands, manufacturers of medical and hygiene products and regional nonwoven converters.
The net sales of the Care business area totaled EUR 31.3 million in 2016 (EUR 32.4 million in 2015).
One of the highlights for Care was in early 2016, when Suominen won the RISE® Durable Product Award for innovation in new commercial nonwoven durable products with its FIBRELLA® Lite nonwoven, which is used in the stretch parts ofabsorbent hygiene products, such as baby diapers. A nonwoven spunlaced product, FIBRELLA® Lite combines traditionally incompatible features like strength, softness, stretchability and light weight together in one material.
The most important growth-enabling projects for the Care business area were production line improvements in Alicante, Spain, and Paulínia, Brazil. They expand Suominen’s production capabilities in nonwovens for medical applications and offering of our recently developed nonwovens in the segment, i.e., FIBRELLA® Zorb and FIBRELLA® Zorb+, which were developed for surgical drapes, and FIBRELLA® Perf, a nonwoven substrate for wound care products.
The investment in a new wetlaid production line in our plant in Bethune, SC, USA, also benefits Care. Completed in December 2016, the new production line will help us meet the growing demand for nonwovens for medical products, among other applications.
Solid growth in product demand is forecasted to continue in the Care business area.
The main market areas for Care are Americas and Europe. The investment made at Suominen’s plant in Brazil also enables the business area to supply medical and hygiene products in South America.
In North America, demand for nonwovens for medical products is projected to grow roughly 5%, while in Europe the estimated annual growth rate is around 3%. These growth forecasts are supported by the current global health and well-being megatrends: an increase in the number of pandemics and hospital-acquired infections, as well as the challenges and changing operating models faced by the healthcare sector.
In nonwovens for hygiene products, annual market growth in North America and Europe is close to 4%. The growth prospects for hygiene applications are driven by demographic factors such as population growth, the increase in income in developing countries and the aging of the population in developed countries.
The goal for the Care business area is to achieve substantial growth. This will be sought by concentrating on two areas: firstly, on expanding our product portfolio through developing new products and, secondly, on nurturing our existing customers while gaining new customers, because developing business relationships can take time in medical and hygiene markets.
Suominen's global manufacturing platform comprises eight production plants on three continents:
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We Love Wipes is Suominen’s digital consumer dialogue program launched back in 2013. Nowadays, the We Love Wipes community consists of nearly 25,000 followers who are not afraid to share their thoughts on and experiences with nonwovens products.
We Love Wipes aims to increase consumer awareness of disposable nonwoven products by providing brand-free information on the wide range of products, their different end-use applications and various features – all in a fun and entertaining way. And since the dialogue is two-way, We Love Wipes provides Suominen with valuable information about consumer needs and, in turn, enables us to develop new nonwoven products with higher added value.
Focused, in-depth information collected through We Love Wipes is a valuable asset for us and, therefore, we will continue deepening our consumer understanding in order to find opportunities, support product development projects and, ultimately, bring more value to our customers.